Southern painted turtle rare in these parts

Sunday, March 25, 2012

There are four kinds of North American painted turtles (the eastern, midland, southern and western). My photo here is of a southern painted turtle. It is the only North American painted turtle to have a red-orange stripe running the top of the shell from head to tail. The southern painted turtle is the smallest of North America's painted turtles. The one in this image was a little over four inches in shell length.

Southern painted turtles have been found and recorded in only 10 of Missouri's counties. All these counties are in the southern part of the state. I found this one March 17 at Mingo National Wildlife Refuge in Stoddard County. The last southern painted turtle officially recorded for Stoddard County was in 2001.

The southern painted turtle is a beautifully colored water turtle. Its food consists of things like crayfish, dragonfly nymphs, duckweed and tender water vegetation. The range of this turtle includes parts of nine states along the lower Mississippi River Valley.

Through the Woods is a weekly nature photo column by Aaron Horrell. Find this column at to order a reprint of the photo. Find more work by him at the Painted Wren Gallery.

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